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Contributing to the Community: Hacktoberfest PR #1


It's October which means Thanksgiving and Halloween are right around the corner! Well, I guess it also means Hacktoberfest has officially begun too...


Moving on... This is my first Hacktoberfest ever! I'm feeling a weird mixture of anxiety and an untamable drive to do some really awesome stuff this October. However, I know myself very well and how addicted I can get to problems that are far outside of my skill range, so I settled for a minor but unique issue to tackle for my first PR.

What was the issue about?

The issue requested a Python module to be built with the following capabilities.

  1. Function Runtime Measurement:
    • Print the runtime of a function
  2. Script Runtime Measurement:
    • Measure the overall runtime of a script
  3. User-Friendly Output:
    • Ensure the output is human-readable

I've done something similar to this a very long time ago, although it was done in C++, so I figured I would give it a shot in Python this time around.

The process

I started out by making a class called runtime_calculator so that I could contain all the necessary functions and class features that would be required for the module.

I then had to do some research on the time library, which proved to be extremely useful. I learned all about time.time() built-in function and how to manipulate it for what I was looking to implement. It also allowed me to look into wrappers and decorators in Python, 2 very powerful tools that allowed my module to really shine!

The bread and butter of the module is the measure_runtime() function:

def measure_runtime(func):
    """A decorator function that measures the runtime of a given function"""
    def wrapper(*args, **kwargs):
        result = func(*args, **kwargs)
        runtime = calculator.stop()
        print(f"Function {func.__name__} took {runtime: .2f} seconds to run.")
        return result
    return wrapper
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This allows for the timer to be started and then a function to promptly be timed as it runs, finally printing the runtime to the console.

Figuring out the script runtime was a little different as it required the timer to start as soon as the script ran. I ended up finding a fix for it by setting the starting time to a variable at the class initialization and calling a function to grab the final time before the script stopped.

Sending the PR

The pull request was sent and promptly verified for merging into the repo. I was very happy that I was able to do it right the first time because I spent a lot of time debugging everything and making sure it was up to spec. The maintainer of the repo was very kind and was a great intro to how helpful and kind the open-source community is.

Learning outcomes

Decorators are something I've very loosely used, along with wrappers, which is why being able to really understand them in a brand-new setting was quite a refreshing experience. The experience using such powerful concepts is priceless as they've shown me a lot of what Python has to offer in terms of modularity. I love the fact that you can just cast a function into the form of a variable and simply run the function within the decorator. Even with such a small code addition, it feels like I've levelled up my knowledge of Python.

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